Sunday, 30 November 2014

OnePlus One to arrive this Tuesday, but without CyanogenMod

OnePlus One 
OnePlus One, a new entrant in the Indian market has been facing technical problems before its arrival. The official partnership between Cyanogen and OnePlus has now been cancelled.
However, OnePlus One, which will launch in India on December 2, has posted an apology letter on its official blog. Titled – A letter to our Indian fans, the company stated that their system will be based on Lollipop and unfortunately not on CyanogenMod. 
Previously, Cyanogen had announced that it will carry out commercial operations in 17 countries along with OnePlus. But unfortunately, Cyanogen has denied the support on the OnePlus One handsets for the Indian market.
Read: How to get your OnePlus One handset in India this December
OnePlus further stated, ‘We can’t explain Cyanogen’s decision because we don’t fully understand it ourselves. But we can explain exactly how we’ll continue offering our fans in India an amazing user experience and support for this device.’  It also promised its customers that OnePlus One will receive frequent OTAs.
Meanwhile, media reports state that Cyanogen has signed up a deal only with Micromax and gained exclusive rights in India. 
Recently, the users of OnePlus One handsets have also faced touchscreen issues and attacked by a software bug as well. The company is conducting several tests on improvising its manufacturing process.

Game review: Far Cry 4

Far Cry 3 marked a big jump forward in the series and it's understandable that Ubisoft does not want to stray away from that formula, which is to take the player to paradise, a veritable heaven on earth — and then unleash hell in the form of a madman with his own small army. In Far Cry 4, you get more of the same mayhem you loved in Far Cry 3, but instead of the sunny blue waters, you now have the cold blue mountains. Did we mention, this game is set in India?

Story and world

Welcome to Kyrat, a beautiful little country nestled deep in the Himalayas. Don't fall off your chair yet, adding Kyrat to your summer travel itinerary. Firstly, it's fictitious; secondly, it's run by a megalomaniac despot Pagan Min.

You play Ajay Ghale, a NRI who has returned to India on the final wishes of his mother to scatter her ashes. Things go horribly wrong for him as he has a pretty scary face-off with Pagan Min. Luck's on his side though, as he is rescued by the rebel group, called Golden Path, in a very cool car chase sequence with some cheesy Bollywood music playing on the car radio, as Pagan Min's men are trying to blow him to kingdom come. As they say, right out of the frying pan and off the mountainside.

The story for most part is okay, with a signature ham attached to it. Just a device meant to acclimatize you to Kyrat, to make you hate the bad guy and to introduce you to all manner of characters. From brave Golden Path members to mad hatters all strewn about the place — all of whom have one purpose in the world: to keep you on a steady supply of missions and things to do and blow up. The interesting part is watching Ghale's background unfold as he finds out the truth about his parents. There's no NRI coming back to India love story unfolding in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge style here — just visceral first person shooting action from beginning to end.

As an Indian playing Far Cry 4, there's a lot to connect with the game and the world of Kyrat, which feels part rooted in north and northeast India as well as parts of Tibet and Nepal as inspiration points. What's interesting is the art style, which employs colorful Indian rangoli art, combined with minimal typography. Little touches like loading screens have "Ek Minute" in Hindi, and many of the conversations or threats are in Hindi too.

You will notice the choicest Hindi profanities thrown in parts. All in all, Far Cry 4 is like being home. Of course, Kyrat is not without it's tropes, meant to make the world more palpable for western audiences. Like monkey heads, lots of elephants, incense and other elements, which mostly brings Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to mind.

One thing is for certain though. Pagan Min is a refreshingly mad villian, who should make it into your villains hall of fame scrapbook. Highly entertaining.


Far Cry 4 is a sandbox shooter, which means you can explore the country of Kyrat from edge to edge. Which you can set about doing either on foot or in one of the vehicles, including killer rickshaws and in some cases on the backs of the local fauna. There's even a whimsical gyrocopter. Driving in Far Cry 4's mountain roads are as tricky as driving in North India, so if getting behind the wheel lets you see the game over screen so often, the game has included a helpful autodrive option so that you can enjoy the scenery or shoot enemies without distraction.

If you play through the game's straightforward campaign, Far Cry 4 will get over pretty fast. However, Kyrat throws in a lot of distractions. Taking over the various enemy outposts is a lot of fun and you can do this either in stealth or with carefully planned mayhem using assortments of guns and gadgets at your disposal. Full guerilla tactics. In addition to that there's a wealth of side missions for you to complete, including a weird Shangri La like hallucination mission.

Being an action game and all, there's lots and lots of guns. You can either go silent tribal style bow and arrow, or fill up your arsenal with some of the home made, souped up guns of the region. Not to mention the sheer destructive power of the elephant. You level up roleplaying game style and you earn money, which in turn buys you a lot more implements of destruction.

For those who have played Far Cry 3, you know the drill. It's more of the same, though Ubisoft has tightened the gameplay and experience. Though you will not get bored, after the Himalayan odyssey feeling wears off, you're just left with a feeling of deja vu.


In this department Far Cry 4 will make your collective jaws drop. Ubisoft has just created a stunning, beautiful Eden that borders on the mythical. If there was a heaven, it would look like Kyrat, minus the mad despot of course. There are times where you will stop to just admire the vistas, or auto-drive just to idly look at the great mountains whiz by like giants. With mists hugging the distant peaks and sunrays shining down, the grass gently sways in the wind.

While the game does look decent on older generation consoles, everything truly shines on the next-generation consoles, but it is the PC version that takes the cake, especially if you have an Nvidia card for which the game has special settings. Be wary though, like most of the releases this gaming season, Far Cry 4 does have a few bugs, which no doubt Ubisoft is hard at work fixing.

Worth a mention are the stunning character models, which are some of the best we have seen. Just take a look at the picture below of Amita, a Golden Path warrior and judge for yourself. Kyrat sure has some beautiful people. Even Pagan Min has a certain whimsical charm about him.

Note: Far Cry 4 has a deep muliplayer and co-op system, something we were not able to test. So this is primarily a review of the games single player. You can, however, play through this campaign with a few friends in co-op.

New app-enabled pacifier will help parents track their babies' temperature

 A new app-enabled dummy has been developed that will help parents track their babies' temperature by getting update on their phones.
The smart dummy features a temperature sensor, data from which would be then fed to the accompanying app, the Independent reported. The software can then plot out the baby's temperature across a range of graphs, and alert parents if the data looks like it might indicate that their baby is ill.
The app can be downloaded for iOS or Android and the software can alert parents that they need to take their baby's temperature or give it medication. It can also trigger notifications if the baby moves beyond a certain range. The smart Bluetooth, which Blue Maestro mentioned keeps the battery usage low, can work over 75 metres.
The dummy also features a buzzer, which can be triggered if it is lost and parents need to find it again.
The binky, which comes in a range of colours and is water, dishwasher-proof will costs €25 and will be released on December 1.

Apple preparing to roll back iPhone 5c next year: Report

New Delhi: If reports are to be believed then Apple is all set to roll back its cheaper version of iPhone 5S which was introduced earlier this year with a colorful plastic body.
Applei Phone 5c

Priced at 99 dollars on contract and 549 dollars off contract in United States, the device was marked as Apple's budget phone, meant to target emerging markets like India and China. However, it did not got much popular amongst the consumers, who were much excited about the pricier iPhone 5S, according to a news report.

The 5S outsold 5C in some places by margins as high as 5 to 1 in the days after the launch. If the rumours are to be believed then Apple may discontinue the product in the middle of next year.

However, no official statement has been  received by Apple yet.

12.2-inch Apple iPad Air Plus to feature next-gen A9 processor, improved speakers: report

12.2-inch Apple iPad Air Plus to feature next-gen A9 processor, improved speakers: report
A Japanese magazine dedicated to Apple fanboys, Mac Fan, has published details of the rumoured 12.2-inch iPad Air Plus including its internal hardware and expected launch date.
The magazine found a leaked blueprint of the 12.2-inch iPad, which says that the tablet will be 305.31 x 220.8 x 7mm in size and come powered by a next-generation A9 processor. It adds that the ‘iPad Air Plus’ is said to have four built in speakers on its edges to provide stereo sound. It also claims that the iPad Air Plus is scheduled to launch some time between April to June 2015.
AppleInsider has said that another Japanese publication, called Macotakara, has details which aligns with the information shared by Mac Fan. Macotakara says that the upcoming ‘iPad Pro’ or ‘iPad Plus’ will feature a 12.2-inch display with speakers and microphones on multiple edges.
According to AppleInsider, Macotakara also claims that the iPad Air Plus won’t be as thin as the 6.1mm iPad Air 2, but will be as slim as an iPhone, measuring somewhere between 6.9mm and 7.1mm.
While we don’t know how much to believe Mac Fan, AppleInsider claims that the publication has previously been pretty accurate about Apple-product information before them being unveiled.
The same report by Mac Fan also claims that the iPad mini 4 will be powered by Apple’s existing A8X processor and sport a new, thinner design. It also says that following the launch of the iPad mini 4, the iPad mini and iPad mini 3 will be discontinued.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Nimbuzz launches Holaa to take on TrueCaller

Nimbuzz launches Holaa after getting acquired by New Call TelecomAlmost a month after, Guragon-based chat and mobile VoIP provider Nimbuzz was acquired by UK-based New Call Telecom, the brand has launched its new call management platform called Holaa today.
Holaa is basically a free caller ID app and is much like the popular Truecaller app. It is available only on Android. Holaa!, like Truecaller, allows users to see details like the caller’s name, photo and location during an incoming call live. It also helps block spam calls from pesky spammers or other unwanted callers.
Holaa! allows users to search people’s names based on their phone numbers and alerts the registered user if the caller is marked as spam by other members of Holaa! community. The app syncs with Facebook, Google accounts and phonebook to provide the caller’s name, photo, location and email ID. Users can also opt out of Facebook and Google account sync feature.
It keeps a tab whenever the user moves away from their home network and notifies if they wish to block calls from unknown numbers. The app regularly provides additional information about phone book contacts, which, the user can add to their directory by using the ‘Merge’ feature. Users can also share contact information for both phone book contacts and unknown contacts with their friends using a share option allowing the sharing of names, mobile numbers, photos and e-mail addresses.

Gionee launches world’s thinnest phone Elife S5.1 in India at Rs 18,999

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Gionee has launched the thinnest smartphone in India called Elife S5.1 at a price of Rs 18,999. The smartphone is expected to be available by next week.
The Elife S5.1 features a 4.8-inch AMOLED display (720 x 1280 pixels resolution) with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. It runs on a 1.7GHz octa-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 16 GB of non-expandable internal storage.
The Elife S5.1 runs Android 4.4 KitKat with Gionee’s Amigo 2.0 UI. Other features include an 8MP rear camera and 2050 mAh battery.
It will be available in White, Black, Blue and Pink colour options.
4.8-inch 720p AMOLED display
Android 4.4 KitKat with Gionee’s Amigo 2.0 UI
1.7GHz octa-core processor
1GB of RAM
16 GB of non-expandable internal storage
8 MP rear camera with flash
2050 mAh battery

Sony planning smartwatch with e-paper face and strap

New wearable will let you change the design of your wristwear without faffing about swapping straps
Sony may be stripping back its product line-up, but it's still finding new things to do.
According to Bloomberg, the company is reportedly developing a new smartwatch that will include a watch face and strap made from e-paper – meaning that the whole device will be able to work as a display.
Sony isn't the first company to hit on the idea; Japanese company Fashion Entertainments is working on a watch with an e-ink face and strap (though it doesn't have smartwatch functionality). It does, however, point towards what a smartwatch with an e-paper strap might look like, enabling the wearer to change the design – or even receive notifications on the watch strap.
The Sony smartwatch is the brainchild of a new division at the company tasked with bringing promising products to market more quickly – another prospective product is MESH, a set of "technology building blocks" containing sensors, LEDs and buttons that are designed for rapid prototyping.
Sony's e-paper device faces stiff competition, with Android Wear smartwatches already on the shelves, and the Apple Watch set to hit stores in 2015. Will its unique design be enough to set it apart from the herd? Watch this space.

Now, Twitter allows users to see analytics inside their tweets

Twitter allows users to see analytics inside their tweets
A new tool on Twitter's mobile app 'View Analytics Details' now allows users to see the analytics inside their tweets to know if they are doing any good.
It allows users to see a variety of metrics about their tweets opening a view that shows impressions, engagements and engagement rates through "View Analytics Details".
According to the Verge, it shows how many people have seen and clicked your tweet.
Separate drilldowns also reveal the percentage of followers that viewed media and clicked any links associated with the tweet.
Twitter started analytics to all users on its website last year. However, the new functionality makes it easier to access on phones.

Micromax Canvas Tab P666 with Intel chip launched in India for Rs 10999

Equipped with voice calling and 3G support, the new Micromax Canvas Tab P666 has been launched in India by the homegrown company, with its price set at Rs 10999. It’s hard to ignore that the device steals some design cues from the new Google Nexus 9, especially if its rear surface is to be looked at.
Anyway, the launch of the Micromax Canvas Tab P666 tablet also marks the first time the company has partnered with Intel on any kind of product. A dual core Atom Z2520 processor with Hyper-Threading technology can be found inside it, sitting beside a 1GB RAM module and a PowerVR SGX544 GPU.
Micromax Canvas Tab P666
The IPS panel on the front of this tablet is 8 inches in size and bears a resolution of 800 x 1280 pixels. Android 4.4 KitKat happens to be the base OS on this Micromax tablet, while its imaging attributes are highlighted by a 5MP rear snapper and a 2MP front camera.
Also Read: Micromax Bolt AD4500 arrives online in India for Rs 5290
A 4400mAh battery keeps it going in between charges, providing it with talk time of 15 hours and standby time of 325 hours. The Canvas Tab P666 happens to be 7.9mm in thickness, and it features 8GB of storage apart from a microSD card slot for further memory expansion.
A short glance at the specs of the Micromax Canvas Tab P666:
– Display: 8-inch IPS, 800 x 1280 pixels
– OS: Android 4.4 KitKat
– Processor: 1.2GHz dual core Intel
– GPU: PowerVR SGX544
– Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB storage (expandable up to 32GB)
– Camera: 5MP on rear, 2MP on front
Micromax Canvas Tab P666 Rear
The Intel-powered Micromax Canvas Tab P666 will be released into the Indian market on November 29. As mentioned above, its cost will be set at Rs 10999.

Analysis: Triumph Street Triple power falls to 79PS?

Triumph India Motorcycles’ website was updated about a month ago to reflect the ARAI-certified specifications. Most of the motorcycles assembled here show a small drop in power between seven and 10 per cent. But the Street Triple shows a 25 per cent drop in power from 106PS to 79PS. Here’s what we know of how the Street Triple lost a quarter of its power output.

The 85PS Street Triple

Triumph actually have an 85PS specification for the Street Triple. If you visit Triumph Brazil, you will see that they have a Street Triple listed with 85PS peak power. Even better is Japan where the Street Triple 85 with 85PS is listed as separate model from the Street Triple R which lists with 106PS. The price difference is JPY263200 or Rs 1.4 lakh approximately. The Street Triple R is not on sale in India.
Why is this 85PS motorcycle important? Well this is the model that Triumph has been selling in India from day one, then the 79PS official ARAI figure is easily explained. And then the only question that remains is why Triumph chose not to update the website to reflect the correct and significantly lower power figure all these days.
But let us come back to that.
Triumph Street Triple

Is the 79PS Street Triple value for money?

It isn’t. There we’ve said it. We have compared the Street Triple to the Kawasaki Z800 in the past because the Kawasaki is close to the Triumph in both spec and price. But now the playing field has been flipped on its head. The Z800 is now just Rs 25,000 more than the Speed Triple, approximately. And in that money, it gives you 35PS more as well as a four-cylinder engine. If I were sticking to a budget then the Kawasaki makes a lot more sense.
On the other hand, the new spec actually makes the Kawasaki Ninja 650 looks like a startlingly good deal. The N650 (and the Rs 50,000 cheaper ER-6n) makes 72PS, 7PS less power and is powered by a parallel twin. But, get this, at Rs 5.71 lakh, it’s Rs 2.79 lakh cheaper (and in the case of the ER-6n, Rs 3.29 lakh cheaper) than the Street Triple. Which is a terrific deal. The Triumph is the sportier feeling of the two motorcycles, no doubt, but the Ninja 650 is actually a very persuasive motorcycle and at this price differential vastly greater value for money.
Again, this doesn’t meant that the Indian Street Triple is suddenly virtue-free. It’s still a fun bike to ride with sharp handling and an awesome lightness that makes it good fun to ride. But a loss of 25 per cent of its power even if notional is a big change in the value proposition.

 What’s the difference between 85PS and 106PS models?

I am given to understand that the 85PS spec has a different valve and a different exhaust. In theory this means that for not a lot of money you can raise the power back to nearly the 106PS spec.
Unfortunately Triumph as a manufacturer cannot legally offer you that option. However, if you do upgrade to the Arrow exhaust which Triumph offers out of its dealerships you will come close to the 106PS spec.

Was the 106PS bike ever sold here at all

No. While the material in the showrooms and the website all said 106PS listing the European specification. But India has always received the 85PS spec which the ARAI officially certified as 79PS.
In fact, we tested these 85/79PS versions as well and took the website’s 106PS as the figures to quote. We have altered the two stories we have online to reflect the drastic change the new information makes to the proposition. Here’s the updated first ride and here’s the comparo against the Kawasaki Z800.
Unfortunately, Triumph’s explanation suggests that the 85PS model was on sale from day one and it’s just taken this long to update the website. In effect, a simple procedural glitch that led to an inordinate delay in updating the website. This could be true too – if they hadn’t updated their website, India just doesn’t have that many dynamometers for the sharp difference in power to become known. But glitch or not, disclaimered or otherwise, this is extremely disappointing.
Triumph India really should have had the Brazilian spec up from day one and updated the website to reflect the ARAI specification as soon as sales opened. The no disclaimers would have not been needed.

Exclusive: In conversation with Xiaomi's Hugo Barra

Hugo Barra, Xiaomi, smartphone, interview, Broadband, data, Internet, Redmi Note
At the launch of the Redmi Note and Note 4G in Mumbai today, we sat down with Hugo Barra, President of Xiaomi Global, and discussed everything from their India strategies to their role in future wearable technologies. Below is an excerpt from the conversation:
What are the new ways that people are consuming digital technology, which is influencing the way people will use mobile devices?
It’s interesting to see what’s happening in the messaging space, for example, because video is coming back in a pretty big way. A lot if it is because of apps like SnapChat, which has a major video feature that’s taking over the world in a massive way. So all of a sudden what used to be small messages is now these huge video files, which obviously has huge bandwidth implications. The impact to data transmission that SnapChat alone has had over the past few months is absurd. Same with Instagram video. When they copied Vine and introduced video, that also created a monster new trend of micro video that never existed before; certainly not at that scale. I don’t know to what extent that trend has hit India, and it may not have, but that’s certainly going to be one of the 3G/4G use cases.
I actually do think that 4G is going to be the most important development we are going to see in any developing market over the next couple of years, because in a market like India or Indonesia, or any of the countries in Southeast Asia, so many people have not had broadband of any sort. They haven’t had broadband at home or at office; they’ve not had it, period. So it’ll now be the first time they experience it. The consumption of video content, relative to what it could be, is still very very small in India despite the fact that YouTube is hugely popular here. It is popular among the top segment of the social pyramid. But imagine the impact that mobile video--even YouTube alone--can have. It’s tremendous. Though this is not necessarily a hardware/software trend, it is an evolution that will influence major use cases. The thing about 4G in a developing market like India is that it is going to affect everything. The biggest problem with 3G, especially how it’s been implemented in India, is that it’s just so slow, to start. So if you go to a website, it takes 10 seconds for the damn thing to load.
It’s like if you’re in the US and on Verizon’s LTE network, you don’t want to leave because it’s so good. It’s so fast! Assuming you’re in a good coverage area of course. It’s better than WiFi because they have the most amazing backbone; being right there. Their network is plugged into the backbone of the Internet. It’s extraordinary, and I don’t think people understand what it is, because they’ve never tried it. No one in India, other than people who have connectivity in very premium offices in Delhi for example--which is where the Internet comes in--no one has experienced such fast broadband.
Given this 4G trend, we were very keen to be part of it at the very beginning. We laid out a challenge to our team to bring out a 4G smartphone, and we wanted to do it this year, and for under Rs. 10,000. We’re very happy we have.
What do you think of human interface technologies and how things like speech recognition and biometrics will influence future mobile and wearable products?
That’s an interesting challenge. I’ll have to say it is the ‘home’ user interface and the ‘car’ user interface that are still not yet quite there. There really are no good examples of these interfaces that are easy to use and functional. Then when it comes to things like voice, it is not so much voice recognition as it is natural language processing that needs to develop. In this area, context is all important. For example, if you were driving at speed on an open road with a little traffic, the context for the interface to respond would be completely different compared to driving on a more crowded street with dense traffic. It’s a question of response time and the ability to instantly react correctly to a user’s request.
Natural language processing is a tricky thing, and it still needs to evolve to a point where it is reliable and useable. Take Siri for example. Apple has spoiled it for the rest of the field because of the pre-created responses that attempt to sound like natural language responses. The moment you continue the conversation, it falls flat and it gets really frustrating.
Finally, tell us a bit more about Mi's 'sell at cost' strategy. How DO you manage to keep those prices so low?
[Smiles] It’s a combination of several things. It’s about optimising all parts of the supply and fulfilment chain. Whether it comes to working with the right suppliers, to optimising manufacturing processes, to delivering, we really play it to the bone. We’ve always believed in the power of word-of-mouth, and are committed in bringing the best technology to our fans at the lowest price points.

New smartphone app helps you find lost keys

A new app will now come to its users' aid if they get locked out of their own homes.
The August Smart Lock, crafted by Yves Behar, has keys that is a code executed by a phone and users can use its app to send keys to anyone, reported The Verge. The app can also be used to send temporary keys that can self-destruct at user's command.
August co-founder and CEO Jason Johnson said that almost two million people get locked out of their own homes in New York and since the smartphone is basically welded to users' hands today, it was time to try using it instead of an analogue lock and key.

Bah Humbug: Microsoft's affordable smartphone strategy dashes hopes for a real flagship

I've been using Microsoft-powered smartphones since 2000, including using Windows Phone since it launched in 2010. Like many who visit this site, the high-end smartphones appeal to me for their cutting-edge specifications and capabilities that provide value for months or years.
Flagship smartphone buyers also serve as advocates for platforms and help generate enthusiasm and improvements in the platform. Unlike the successful iOS or Android platforms, there has never been a single Windows Phone model launched across all major US wireless carriers.
There is also no flagship currently available to match the latest iPhone 6 or Android models. The last high-end Windows Phone device was the Nokia Lumia Icon, available only on Verizon and powered by a 2013 processor. It was released in February 2014 while AT&T's exclusive Lumia 1520 was released in October 2013.
ZDNet's Ed Bott questioned whether it was too late for Windows Phone back in September and even though I have been an advocate for the platform for years, I am extremely disappointed that Microsoft continues to ignore the high-end smartphone buyer with a focus on the affordable phone market. Those just concerned about pricing are not vocal advocates for the platform and if Microsoft ever wants to gain more than 3 percent of the smartphone market they need to throw a bone to the smartphone enthusiast.
Best 10 smartphones for the 2014 holiday buying season
Best 10 smartphones for the 2014 holiday buying season
We've seen plenty of new devices unveiled in the last few weeks. Matthew Miller's updated list includes the best Android and Windows handsets now available, as well as -- surprise! -- that new plus-sized iPhone.
I own a SIM-unlocked Nokia Lumia 1520 — AT&T neutered their version — and I think it is still one of the best smartphones in my collection. HTC released their One M8 for Windows in August and it continues to roll out across carriers. This will actually be the first Windows Phone to launch across the four major carriers, but it is a phone first released running Android back in April 2014. The specs are good, but don't match what buyers can get with an iPhone or Android device.
Fans of Windows Phone have been asking for a successor to the Lumia 1020, 1520, and 930 that has specifications to match what is offered by other platforms. I honestly thought Microsoft was going to launch such a beast when the Nokia name was retired, but instead we have the mid-range Lumia 830 (exclusive to AT&T) running a Snapdragon 400 processor, 720p display, 1GB RAM, and 2200 mAh battery. Not a lot there to generate excitement among the smartphone enthusiast.
So back to Ed's question of whether it is too late for Windows Phone. Microsoft will state that something great is coming in 2015 with the next version of Windows Phone. That always seems to be the answer and as you look back, you won't see a single cutting edge flagship Windows Phone launch across all major carriers in the US. I have my doubts that it will ever happen.
I will keep using my Nokia Lumia 1520 since I like Cortana, Action Center, and more packed in Windows Phone 8.1. However, there is no flagship I would recommend over the latest iPhone 6 or Android from Samsung, Sony, or Motorola and that's the real problem I have with Microsoft's mobile phone strategy

OnePlus One coming to from Dec 2 but you will need to get invites now

OnePlus One, one of the most eagerly anticipated phones of this year, will become available in India from December 2 exclusively on This is the first time the Chinese startup has tied up with a local partner to see the hugely popular phone.There is no word on the pricing yet, but we believe the company might go for a really aggressive price point given that the competition is really tough in the mid-range in India.
As reported by earlier, users in India will receive India-specific invites through OnePlus and “The two platforms have been integrated so that invites claimed into a OnePlus account will be used to purchase the device on Starting today, users interested in buying the One can log onto and register their interest for an invite,” said a release from OnePlus.
“Our company focuses first on our users and our product,” said Pete Lau, CEO of OnePlus. “We want to provide the best possible experience for our Indian users who have been so supportive of our vision. To do that, we are investing heavily in our Indian operations and partnering with the fastest growing and most admirable e-commerce company in the market,”
“We are very excited to bring this much awaited phone for our customers in India. And we are having real fun with the unique marketing initiatives for the launch. It fits right into our philosophy of bringing wide and unique selections and experiences for our customers,” said Amit Agarwal, Vice President and Country Manager, Amazon India.
Interestingly, a video featuring both Lau and Agarwal has been released to mark the tie up.
Also, departing from its regular modus operandi, OnePlus India will have a physical presence, the first outside of their headquarters with a local team led by General Manager Vikas Agarwal. “This will be the first region in which a localized service infrastructure is established, offering phone and walk-in support to users around the country.”

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Denmark is the 'world’s most connected country'

Denmark pips South Korea for ease of mobile and internet access, while Britain comes fifth in annual ranking

Denmark is 'world’s most connected country'
Copenhagen, Denmark Photo: Fotolia/AP
Denmark has been named the world's "most connected" country based on mobile phone and internet use.
Scandinavia dominated this year’s rankings, with Sweden in third place, followed by Iceland in fourth, Norway sixth and Finland eighth. Britain came fifth.
They were compiled as part of a report by the International Telecommunication Union - the Information and Communication Technology Development Index (IDI), which rates 166 countries according to their level of access to, use of and skills in using information and communication technology.
Hong Kong was the ninth most connected country, coming in ahead of Japan in 11th place, while Luxembourg completed the top 10.
Other countries in the top 30 included the US (which ranked 14th), Australia, Switzerland, Singapore, Germany, France, New Zealand, Estonia and Macau, as well the principalities of Andorra and Monaco.
The 10 least connected countries were all in Africa, with the Central African Republic being the worst, followed by Niger, Chad, Eritrea and Ethiopia.
All countries were shown to have improved their IDI values in the last year, while the nations with the “most dynamic” improvement in ranking included the United Arab Emirates, Fiji, Cape Verde, Thailand, Oman, Qatar, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Georgia. Improvements were said to have been driven mostly by better wireless broadband connection.
Europe proved to be the most connected region, scooping up eight of the top 10 rankings, while Africa had the lowest regional ranking. The continent, however, did show a mobile broadband growth rate of more than 40 per cent in 2014 on last year.
Nearly three billion people globally will be using the internet by the end of this year, up by nearly 40 per cent on last year. But 450 million people still don’t live within reach of a mobile signal, while 4.3 billion people are not connected to the internet - with 90 per cent of those living in developing countries, the report said.
Earlier this year, Telegraph Travel’s technology expert Donald Strachan outlined the “world’s Wi-Fi-friendliest cities”, featuring various countries from the top 40 of this year’s IDI report.
Connecting in the Finnish capital of Helsinki is password-free and easy thanks to a network of hotspots in public buildings, civic squares and even on some buses and trams around the city.
Hong Kong, “one of the world’s most futuristic cities”, was said to be generous with free internet access in public areas. There are several free Wi-Fi networks, the key ones being GovWiFi (at parks, libraries, public buildings, ferry terminals and more) and MTR WiFi, which provides 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi per device up to five times every day at MTR stations.
Taipei offers 30 days of free access to a national, government-backed network of over 5,000 hotpsots. Hundreds of these free iTaiwan hotspots are available throughout the Taiwanese capital.
Macau was noted for its WiFiGo service which offers free internet for visitors every day between 8am and 1am. The network has around 150 hotspots, meaning there's usually Wi-Fi close by, including at ports, museums and tourist information centres.
Other major cities with free public Wi-Fi access include New York, Paris and Perth, Australia, as well as Florence and Tel Aviv, which has eighty hotspots dotted around its centre.
Access to free Wi-Fi has been an increasingly important factor for travellers around the world, especially when booking a hotel. Britain's hotels were found to be among the worst in Europe for free Wi-Fi access, while the two best performing cities were both Swedish - Malmö and Gothenburg, where 98 per cent and 96 per cent of hotels were found to offer free Wi-Fi, a survey by the travel search engine KAYAK earlier this year revealed.
A new website aiming to help travellers in the search for free and fast wireless internet access was introduced earlier this year. lets hotel guests test the speed of their internet connection, and then stores the results for others to view. It also records whether the Wi-Fi is free or comes at a price.
Several airports around the world also offer free Wi-Fi services, with Dallas-Forth Worth in Texas being among the best, providing free Wi-Fi in all five of its terminals since 2012. Since upgrading its former paid network, the number of daily Wi-Fi connections has risen from 2,000 to 55,000. Helsinki Airport, Singapore’s Changi Airport, Seoul’s Incheon Airport and Amsterdam Schiphol complete the world’s top five for airport Wi-Fi quality.
Earlier this year, Britain’s biggest airports have been criticised for failing to provide passengers with unlimited Wi-Fi access.
None of Britain's six busiest airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Edinburgh and Luton – offer unlimited free internet access, according to a study by Skyscanner, the flight comparison website.

New Parrot drone 'Bebop' announced for December

Parrot announced the release of it's latest Bebop drone earlier this week, and boy does it look oh so delicious. Every man-child's dream, this little piece of hardware is expected to be launched sometime December.
The third in Parrot's line of Augmented Reality Drones, the Bebop has a 1080p 14MP HD camera with a double-axis 180 degree field of view capability. Pack a Parrot P7 dual-core CPU, quad-core GPU and 8 GB of memory and you have quite the ultra-hobby device. The Bebop also generates it's own 802.11n WiFi, interfacing with your smartphone/tablet controller from up to 300 metres away.
Add to that, the Parrot Skycontroller. This doohickey is a WiFi booster, tablet dock and joystick control all in one. Use the brace to attach the Skycontroller to your waist, dock your controller of choice, and then use the joysticks for precision flying. The Skycontroller also increases the controller range from 300 metres to a glorious 2 km. The Bebop also comes with it's own GPS navigation. allowing you to plot a course or order it to return to your controller location at the click of a button.

But that's not all. The Skycontroller also interfaces with First-Person-View cameras (FPV), to give you that truly immersive experience. The only downside of this device seems to be that it has a flight time of about 11 minutes on a 90-minute-long full charge. Thankfully, that's nothing that can't be fixed with extra battery packs.
The Bebop will retail for a cool US $499 and the bundle with the Skycontroller will set you back US $999.

Researchers hope achieve Internet speeds of up to 10Gbps using 5G

Researchers hope achieve Internet speeds of up to 10Gbps using 5G networks
Researchers are investigating how software-defined cellular networking might be used to give smartphone users the next generation of  ultra fast broadband – 5G.
Currently, the fourth generation of mobile phone connection technology, 4G, in as far as it has been adopted provides broadband-type connectivity for enabled devices such as smartphones, tablet computers, laptops and other gadgets through two standards: the Mobile WiMAX standard and the first-release Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard.
Peak speeds were set in the standards at 100 megabits per second (Mbit/s) for mobile users and ten times that for static, domestic 5G users, 1 gigabit per second. 100 Mbits/s is three times faster than the earlier 3G system but users commonly do not see data transfer at such high rates, downloads are usually at best 10 Mbits/s. As yet, there is no single standard for 5G although various systems are being touted based on rebuilding the cellular networks to be super-efficient and exploiting different frequencies with their capacity for greater data rates.
The hope is to be able to achieve download speeds of perhaps 10 Gbits/s, researchers said. In practice, this means that a high-definition movie can be downloaded in less than half an hour. The research is being undertaken by Ming Lei of Samsung Research and Development Institute China, Lei Jiang of NEC Laboratories, Beijing with colleagues at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in Chengdu, Beijing Jiaotong University and the University of Kurdistan.
They have assessed the latest developments aimed at 5G systems and have proposed their own novel end-to-end (E2E) software-defined cellular network (SDCN) architecture which
they say offers flexibility, scalability, agility and efficiency.
Moreover, it will be sustainable for providers as well as profitable, researchers said. They are currently building a demonstration system that will allow them to utilise several promising technologies in their architecture for 5G including cloud computing, network virtualisation, network functions virtualisation and dynamic service chaining.
The approach, they suggest, could overcome bandwidth shortage problems, improve quality of service so avoiding delays and data loss, as well as reducing the vast number of error-prone network nodes needed for such a system. The research was published in the International Journal of Communication Networks and Distributed Systems.

At China online coming-out party, Beijing spells out Internet control ambition

China showed governments and the planet's biggest tech firms last week its vision for global Internet governance - clean, controlled and choreographed.
Public officials and firms worth $2.5 trillion in market value, from Apple Inc to Facebook Inc, got first-hand exposure in the postcard-perfect town of Wuzhen as China showcased its first 'World Internet Conference' (WIC). "This place (Wuzhen) is crowded with tourists, who are perfectly orderly," Lu Wei, China's Internet tsar and director of the Cyberspace Administration of China, said at the opening ceremony. "Cyberspace should also be free and open, with rules to follow and always following the rule of law."
Many attendants saw China hosting the summit as a step forward. Yet for sceptics, the controlled environment of the summit reinforced industry concerns that Beijing's lip service to a "free and open" Internet rings hollow, with the government's iron grip on the online industry intact. At a summit hosted by government leaders, nothing was left to chance and reporters were not allowed to ask questions directly in numerous events, a common practice at industry conferences in China.
After one panel discussion was filmed with an official moderator, state media reporters were then given the cue to address empty chairs on a podium as cameras rolled. That footage was set to be spliced into the TV broadcast of the panel, featuring big industry names, in late November, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter, giving the impression that the reporters had carried out a dialogue with the industry leaders.
Telephone calls to state broadcaster CCTV, which the person with knowledge said was meant to broadcast the show, met with refusals to make officials available to comment.
Everything displayed at Wuzhen, about 120 kilometres (75miles) southwest of Shanghai, was meant to convey a specific message to the international community, attendees said.   China's leaders spoke of an Internet that should be free and open - and controlled on its own terms.
"China has made, at the top level, a decision that it needs to be part of a global Internet," said Fadi Chehade, president and chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a non-profit organisation which manages the infrastructure of the Internet. "China is also telling the world...'We're no longer going to be bystanders in how the Internet is governed'," Chehade said.
The country has the world's largest population of Internet users, more than 630 million. Chinese firms like Tencent Holdings Ltd, Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd are in the world's top 10 online companies
by market value. Increased sway over the global Internet could also help Beijing promote its economic policy interests, as the private Chinese online heavyweights that play by its rules make more investments abroad.
"China wants to participate further in Internet governance and also in a certain sense it wants to advocate the China model of Internet regulation, including Internet control and censorship," said Fu King-Wa, an assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong's Journalism and Media Studies Centre. China has the world's most sophisticated online censorship system, known elsewhere as the 'Great Firewall', a degree of
control reflected in Wuzhen itself.
The University of Hong Kong's Fu said comments on the WIC on Chinese social media were censored. Authorities also detained a small group of students demonstrating outside the town seeking
access to Facebook, attendees said. Conference organisers didn't immediately respond to questions about censorship surrounding the event.
WIC guests were often able to use websites not usually accessible in China. But that openness did not extend off-line. "Please do not ask questions to guests during sessions in order not to cause disturbances," the WIC's media handbook said. Summit staff, many of whom wore tracksuits similar to Chinese school uniforms, also reflected the oddness of an event on global internet governance constrained by local concerns.
"It feels very weird," said one volunteer, sporting the summit uniform.

Pre-orders for Redmi Note 3G begins

Xiaomi, which entered India in July, has created a stir in the smartphone market with its low priced but feature-rich smartphones. 
Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi on Monday launched the much-anticipated Redmi Note 3G and 4G models, at Rs. 8,999 and Rs. 9,999 respectively. Pre-orders for the 3G Note is set to begin on November 25 at 6 p.m. through e-commerce retailer Flipkart while the 4G Note will be available across Airtel stores in six cities from the second half of next month.
The dual-sim smartphone comes equipped with a 8-core, MTK 6592 1.7 Ghz processor, 5.5” HD IPS display, 3,100 mAh lithium-polymer battery. It also comes with a 13 MP primary and 5 MP front-facing camera. The 200 gram phone houses 5 sensors – gyroscope, light, accelerometer, proximity, and electronic compass - for intuitive performance.
The 4G Note has a 1.6GHz Quadcore Snapdragon processor with 2GB RAM, 8GB internal flash memory with external microSD slot that supports up to 64GB storage and 5.5-inch HD display with 13MP and 5MP cameras.
Xiaomi, which entered India in July, created a stir in the smartphone market with its low priced but feature-rich smartphones. It sells through Flipkart, and is estimated to have sold about half a million Redmi devices and 1.2 lakh Mi3 handsets.

Monday, 24 November 2014

We want to give each user the best possible experience: Vikas Agarwal of OnePlus india

OnePlus, a very new Chinese mobile phone company, has big plans for India. After Xiaomi's success, this small start-up will be the next entrant with a similar proposition: top-spec hardware at a price that is less than half of the nearest big brand competition. Demand for the company's first handset, the OnePlus One, has been so strong, that they have had to resort to an invitation only model for device sales.

This is no surprise, considering the company's philosophy (Never Settle) and their primary aim of creating the best (and best value) Android phones in the market. The One was launched globally in April this year and it has received rave reviews since - they truly can't keep up with the demand. The combination of an excellent full HD screen, high-quality hardware, high levels of build quality and the super-customisable Cyanogenmod Android software make for a phone that is hard to beat. The company also chooses to sell directly to consumers, spending little to none on promotions and passing along all the benefits.

ET spoke to Vikas Agarwal, OnePlus' India GM, on the merits of the invite system, their launch plans for India and how they will handle the imminent backlash and complaints about their model.

Can you explain what the invite system is and why OnePlus uses it?

The invite system allows users with an invite to enter our store, input their code and purchase the One. For every invite, there is a device waiting in our warehouse so the phone will ship almost immediately after an order is placed and get to the user in just a few days.

The invite system allows us to manage the volume of units sold. By doing this, we ensure that our support and logistics teams are able to keep up with the growing demand for our device. We want to give each user the best possible experience and that means making sure the company can scale in a smart, consistent manner.

Invites also enable users to share the phone within their communities. When you use an invite, you will eventually get more invites to share with friends. It is a great way for users who perhaps haven't heard about us to learn about our brand and products, which is a great tool for a company as young as ours.

Where will the device be sold? OnePlus' own e-store or in a tie-up with other e-commerce portals?

We are entering an exclusive partnership with a leading e-commerce company to sell our products in India. We will be sending out India specific invites to users in this market. These users can claim the invite in their OnePlus account and then click on the invite to bring them to our partner's site where they may purchase the device.

If someone wants an invite to buy a OnePlus One - how can he/she go about getting it?

Invites will initially be available through our community. This means contests on social media or giveaways on our forums. Invites will become available within communities as well; I mentioned that each buyer receives more invites to share with friends and family. Our e-commerce partner will also be a source of invites for interested customers.

Flash sale models used by some competitors have drawn a lot of flak: complaints mentioned in social media and other reports include 'rigged sales', 'marketing gimmicks', 'leading customers on' and 'creating artificial shortage for free publicity'. How do you plan to handle any similar complaints?

We know that we'll never be able to please everybody, try as we might. If we were to open sales to everyone, our support and logistics processes would suffer and create an unfavorable experience for customers with the phone. The invite system allows us to manage those processes while still ramping up production and making the phone increasingly available.

It's more important that we build a sustainable company and a brilliant customer experience. Right now, the invite system is the best way for us to do that but we are always open for comments and feedback.

There were some reports in August this year that OnePlus was considering abandoning the invite system since manufacturing process had caught up with demand. Is this happening any time soon?

Our production output has significantly increased but demand continues to outpace supply by a good margin. For that reason, we have kept the invite system intact while also introducing a certain number of pre-order windows. Pre-orders allow users who are unable to find an invite (or don't want to look around for one) the chance to order the phone without any restrictions. We are constantly evaluating what works best for our users and will continue to adapt our sales models to offer the best possible user experience.

Note: The OnePlus One is expected to launch in India in the first week of December. Specifications include a 2.5Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad core processor with 3 GB RAM, 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 pixel display, 13MP f2.0 Sony Exmor camera, 5MP front camera, 3,100mAh battery and weight of 162 grams. The device is sold in two variants: silky white 16GB and sandstone black 64GB. It is a single SIM, 4G-ready device and memory is not expandable. The 16GB variant is expected to be sub Rs 20,000 while the 64GB variant will be sub Rs 25,000.

Xiaomi Redmi Note, Note 4G: Six things to know

Google has launched company’s newest Nexus hardware and software last month. Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player were launched as far as hardware goes and Google also released the newest version of company’s OS, Android 5.0 Lollipop. Android 5.0 is making its way to Nexus devices as we speak, as well as some Motorola offerings and will soon hit the rest of the mobile space. Nexus 6, 9 and Player are available in certain parts of the world and everything is nice and dandy, for the most part. I bet that some of you would like to get a closer look on what lays inside of Google’s newest phablet, well, you can do that now.
A well-known repair-it-yourself portal, iFixit, got their hands on a Nexus 6 and took it apart, showing us all the pieces hidden on the inside. If you’re interested in taking a look at the teardown images, you can check those out in the gallery down below. The conclusion? Well, iFixit gave it a 7 out of 10 repairability score. They listed three reasons why that score isn’t higher, first, the glued-in battery is less accessible than it should be. Further more, several components (vibrator, SIM slot, speaker and a USB port) are soldered directly to the motherboard and they would be rather difficult to replace. The last reason has to do with the digitizer, it is fused to the display which increases repair costs for a cracked screen, though it is easy to get to the bare display assembly, according to iFixit. This portal provided a step-by-step explanation of the teardown along with the commentary which you can access if you follow the source link below, it is a rather lengthy read.
Nexus 6 features a 5.96-inch Quad HD (2560 x 1440) AMOLED display along with 3GB of RAM for all your multitasking needs and 32 or 64GB of non-expandable internal storage. This phablet is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor clocked at 2.7GHz which comes along with an Adreno 420 GPU for graphics rendering. On the back of this handset, you’ll find a 13-megapixel OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) camera while there’s a 2-megapixel shooter located up front. Nexus 6 ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop and a non-removable 3220mAh battery. The Nexus 6 measures 159.3 x 83 x 10.1mm and weighs 184 grams. This is a 4G LTE capable device and is available in Midnight Blue and Cloud White color options. If you’re interested in getting one, you can get it in select markets all over the world, U.S., Canada, India, UK… the device is available straight from the Google Play Store, it is also available for purchase on contract from certain carriers, like T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint in U.S. and it will be available from Verizon and U.S. Cellular soon.

Xiaomi Redmi Note, Note 4G: Six things to know

Xiaomi has finally announced availability details of its much-awaited phablet, Redmi Note. The company, known for its ‘value for money’ devices, also unveiled the 4G-enabled version of the phablet, pricing it just Rs 1,000 more than its 3G version at Rs 9,999.

We got a chance to spend some time with the Redmi Note devices and here are our first impressions…

1. Build & design

November 24,2014
Build & design
Redmi Note shares the same design language that we’ve seen in Redmi 1S complete with the red coloured navigation buttons, rectangular slab form factor with rounded corners and a removable back cover that wraps around the edges.

However, the phone is pretty wide at 78.7mm. Both variants of Redmi Note look alike, though the 4G variant is lighter at 185gram compared to the 3G version that weighs 199gram. The back cover is rounded at the edges and is white in colour, sporting a glossy finish. The right edge features metallic keys for volume and power.

2. Display

November 24,2014
Xiaomi Redmi Note sports a 5.5-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1280x720p. The display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and looks bright and vibrant. While the display doesn’t look as sharp as 1080p (full-HD) display, it offers wide viewing angles and decent sunlight legibility. In our brief use, we also found the display panel to be very responsive to touch.

3. Hardware specifications

November 24,2014
Hardware specifications
Redmi Note is powered by a 1.7GHz MediaTek MT6589T octa-core processor, and has 2GB RAM. It also offers users 8GB of internal storage and can hold microSD cards of up to 32GB. The phone has a 3100mAh battery and dual sim slots. It supports 3G, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS.

The 4G version sports almost the same specifications but is powered by a 1.6GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad core processor. Also, unlike the Redmi Note, it is a single sim phone. The phone supports both FDD-LTE Band 3 (1800 MHz) and TD-LTE Band 40(2300MHz) 4G bands. Most 4G networks deployed in India are on TD-LTE.

4. Software

November 24,2014
Xiaomi Redmi Note runs MIUI 5, a heavily customized version of Android. While the MIUI software is based on Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean), the interface looks totally different. The UI is devoid of an app drawer and app icons and widgets are spread across the home screens. The basic MiUi theme looks good with its colourful icon set, beautiful wallpapers and tweaked settings menus.

The 4G version of the Redmi Note runs MIUI 5 over Android 4.4 KitKat. Xiaomi plans to update the Note to KitKat and MIUI 6 which is due for release in the first quarter of 2015.

The software experience was smooth and we did not notice any stutter while navigating through home screens, launching and switching between apps.

5. Camera

November 24,2014
Xiaomi Redmi Note sports a 13MP rear camera accompanied by an LED flash and a 5MP front facing camera. The rear camera supports 1080p video recording while the front camera supports 720p recording.

We tried clicking some pictures at the launch event and found them to be pretty decent. There was no shutter lag and the Camera app is similar to the one found on Xiaomi Mi 3. The front camera also did a decent job.

We'll need to spend more time with the phone to assess the capability of its camera.

6. Pricing

November 24,2014
The Redmi Note is better than most budget phablets available in the market, when it comes to hardware specifications. The camera resolution is higher and the processor, more powerful. The 4G variant of the phone is the cheapest 4G device around.

Interestingly, we also expect it to make an impact on the sales of phones like the Asus ZenFone 5, which comes with decent specifications and costs the same. Indian handset vendors will also feel the heat and need to come up with better devices to keep up.

Regulator Stands By Recommendation for Higher Spectrum Pricing

Sectoral regulator Trai today stood by its recommendations on pricing spectrum at 10 per cent higher rate than the previous auction, taking back certain airwaves from state-owned BSNL and defence giving up spectrum in 2,100 MHz band that can be used for 3G services.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) had sent back Trai's recommendations on spectrum valuation and pricing for a review, saying that some of them can't be implemented in the present form.
"After considering the comments given by DoT, the Authority has furnished its response to the government. The Authority has reiterated its earlier recommendations with detailed reasoning," Trai said in a statement.
The revised comments received from Trai are now likely to be placed before inter-ministerial panel Telecom Commission.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had last month given its recommendations on valuation and pricing of 1800 Mhz and 900 Mhz spectrum bands, being used for 2G services, for the next round of auction.
The regulator said there is no change in the reserve prices for spectrum in 900 Mhz and 1800 Mhz bands from what were recommended earlier.
The DoT had sought clarifications regarding the methodology for arriving at the reserve price and suggested applying the same method used in the February auction for determining the spectrum base price in the next round of sale of radiowaves as well.
(Also See:India's Telephone Subscriber Base Hits 957.61 Million in September: Trai)
DoT had said that using the method suggested by Trai would lead to about further 3-20 per cent higher base price of spectrum across some circles compared to the rates suggested by the regulator.
The next round of spectrum auction is proposed to be held in February 2015 from which government is estimated to garner at least Rs 9,355 crore.
Most of the spectrum which is proposed to be put up for sale is being used by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications across various parts of the country.
These companies will need to buy back radiowaves to continue their operations in areas where their licences are expiring in 2015-16.
DoT had also sent back recommendations given for 800 Mhz (CDMA) spectrum band by Trai in February for reconsidering some points.
The regulator said it will reply separately to specific DoT queries on 800 Mhz band auction. It, however, reiterated its stand on first fully exploring the feasibility of the adoption of E-GSM for efficient utilisation of spectrum in the 800 MHz band.
DoT had said that E-GSM band requires vacation of spectrum by Defence to ensure availability which is likely to take time and keeping spectrum in the 800 MHz band unsold would result in foregone revenues for Government.
On 800 MHz, Trai said more than a year has passed since September 2013 when it had recommended that adoption of E-GSM should be explored in a time-bound manner and spectrum in 800 MHz band has not been auctioned till date.
"Are there no foregone revenues in this context?," Trai asked.
The regulator reiterated its recommendation to take back 1.2 Mhz of 900 Mhz spectrum from BSNL, utilising idle 1800 MHz spectrum in the defence band and vacating spectrum held in excess of 20 MHz by Defence in 1800 MHz band.
(Also See:Reliance TalkLoan Emergency Rs. 10 Recharge Launched)
"The Authority reiterated that dialogue needs to be held at the level of Finance Minister, Minister of Communications and IT and the Defence Minister to ensure the availability of additional spectrum for commercial use," Trai said.
DoT is of the view that it has no jurisdiction to take back the spectrum from BSNL under provisions of the license agreement.
However, Trai said BSNL was awarded spectrum in 900 MHz band administratively and free of charge and as it is a state-owned firm, government has every right to take the spectrum back.
"It is inexplicable to take the stand that the Government, being a sovereign and as owner of the PSU companies cannot resume spectrum given to the PSUs free of charge," Trai said.
The regulator also stood by its proposal wherein it had suggested that 60 Mhz of paired spectrum in 2100 Mhz band should be put up for sale in proposed auction. A part of this band is held by defence forces.
DoT, however, had said that "it does not appear feasible, to get the spectrum in 2100 Mhz band, in the time line proposed for auction of 800 Mhz (CDMA), 900 Mhz and 1800 Mhz band and vacation of spectrum by Defence may not be linked with the upcoming auction".
"In the 2100 MHz band, additional 3 blocks of 2X5 Mhz of spectrum can be made available by swapping spectrum in this band with Defence. Defence can be assigned spectrum in 1900 Mhz band," Trai said.
The regulator also said that spectrum in 800 MHz, 900 Mhz, 1800 Mhz and 2100 Mhz bands should be auctioned together.
"If auction of spectrum in 2100 Mhz were to be taken up later, there would continue to be uncertainty," Trai said.
The regulator also stressed its point that the supply of spectrum should be increased. "The constrained supply of spectrum poses a real threat to the continuity of services being provided to millions of subscribers by the expiry licensees," it added.
Trai also asked the government to announce the roadmap for auction of spectrum in 700 MHz band. "This should be done before the conduct of upcoming auctions in 900/1800 Mhz band," Trai said.

SC slams Srinivasan for owning IPL team while staying at the helm of Indian cricket board

The Supreme Court rapped suspended BCCI chief N Srinivasan on Monday for owning an IPL team while remaining at the helm of the cricket establishment, saying that the sport should remain a “gentleman’s game”.

The court’s stinging observations come as a blow for Srinivasan who is seeking reinstatement as India’s top cricket administrator after a probe panel said he was “not involved with match fixing activity” and “not found to be involved in scuttling the investigations into match fixing”.

“Some people who are in BCCI now own a team. It has become a mutual benefit society. Ownership of team raises conflict of interest,” the court said. “BCCI chief has to run the show but you have a team which raises questions.”
The top court had asked Srinivasan to step aside from his position till the justice Mukul Mudgal panel completed its probe into the match-fixing and betting scandal during the Indian Premier League cricket carnival’s sixth edition.
His son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, identified by the inquiry committee as a team principal for the Srinivasan-owned Chennai Super Kings (CSK), is accused of betting on IPL games.
The IPL has been mired in controversy since May last year when India fast bowler S Sreesanth and two of his teammates from the Rajasthan Royals franchise were arrested by Delhi Police on charges of spot fixing, or influencing the outcomes of parts of a match in exchange for money.
Srinivasan, currently the chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC), had called Meiyappan a “cricket enthusiast” who was not a stake-holder in the team.
The panel said Srinivasan and other IPL officials were involved in a “cover up” of misdeeds of an unnamed player who violated the players’ code of conduct.
The BCCI argued in the top court that the body had its own rules and any future action should be taken by it. It also defended Srinivasan, contending that the cricketer – referred to as individual number three in the report– committed a wrong not related to the IPL.
The court appeared disinclined to grant the cricket body’s request. “You yourself need to be above suspicion, which you are not. If you allow these things to happen, then you are killing the game of cricket,” the judges said. “What promotes the game is that it is played in true spirit of gentleman’s game.”

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Info on Blood Diamonds Could Help India, Says Whistle-blower to NDTV

Info on Blood Diamonds Could Help India, Says Whistle-blower to NDTV
The information that Herve Falciani leaked while he was still an employee of HSBC in Geneva included secret accounts that were allegedly being used by Belgian companies trading in blood diamonds, which are mined and sold to fund insurgencies, often by warlords. ('India has Less Than 1% Info on Black Money, Lots More I Can Offer':Herve Falciani)

"There are a lot of blood diamonds related to HSBC and that will interest India," Mr Falciani said in an exclusive interview to NDTV in his home country of France.

Mr Falciani, who is now 42, left HSBC with secret client information in 2006 and after being ignored for two years, his data was finally accepted as legitimate by French authorities. He was soon co-opted by other countries including Belgium, US, Spain and, more recently, Argentina, to help  with expansive investigations to trace tax evaders who have hidden money via Swiss private banks.

Antwerp is the world's diamond capital; in the last few decades, Indians, many of them Gujaratis, have set up trading firms in the city.

Falciani says these traders have strong links with India and information he has on them can help Indian investigators join the dots on black money. A commission appointed by the Supreme Court in India to look at how to recover black money has also identified the diamond trade as a "hotspot" for undeclared and untaxed money stashed abroad.

Belgian prosecutors say HSBC in Switzerland actively sought out diamond dealers to send untaxed wealth to offshore accounts. On Monday, the Belgian government charged HSBC in Switzerland with organised fraud and criminal activities related to money-laundering.

Mr. Falciani hinted that there could be information on individuals in Belgium and France that Indian investigators could use.

On the original list of bank accounts that were leaked by Mr Falciani were the names of several diamond traders and also hundreds of Indians.

Horses and rhinos originated in India: Researchers

Horses and rhinos originated in India: Researchers 
NEW DELHI: Horses and rhinos probably originated on the Indian subcontinent, some 54.5 million years ago according to a new study of fossils found in Gujarat. At that time, the subcontinent was an island inching its way towards a collision with the Eurasian landmass.
The study was carried out by a team of John Hopkins researchers and colleagues, and published on November 20 in the online journal Nature Communications. 
Modern horses, rhinos and tapirs belong to a biological group, or order, called Perissodactyla. How and when this order evolved has been a mystery, although fossils from as far back as 56 million years ago have been discovered. This group has an uneven number of toes on their hind feet and a distinctive digestive system. 
Ken Rose, a professor at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine and his Indian colleagues began exploring ancient sediments in Western India because it had been proposed that perissodactyls and some other mammal groups might have originated there, a John Hopkins press release said.
In an open-pit coal mine in Gujarat, they uncovered a rich vein of ancient bones. Rose says he and his collaborators obtained funding from the National Geographic Society to send a research team to the mine site at Gujarat for two weeks at a time once every year or two over the last decade. 
The mine yielded what Rose says was a treasure trove of teeth and bones for the researchers to comb through back in their home laboratories. Of these, more than 200 fossils turned out to belong to an animal dubbed Cambaytherium thewissi, about which little had been known, the release said.
The researchers dated the fossils to about 54.5 million years old, making them slightly younger than the oldest known Perissodactyla remains, but, Rose says, it provides a window into what a common ancestor of all Perissodactyla would have looked like. 
"Many of Cambaytherium's features, like the teeth, the number of sacral vertebrae, and the bones of the hands and feet, are intermediate between Perissodactyla and more primitive animals," Rose said according to the release. "This is the closest thing we've found to a common ancestor of the Perissodactyla order," he added. 
Cambaytherium and other finds from the Gujarat coal mine also provide tantalizing clues about India's separation from Madagascar, lonely migration, and eventual collision with the continent of Asia as the Earth's plates shifted, Rose said. 
"Around Cambaytherium's time, we think India was an island, but it also had primates and a rodent similar to those living in Europe at the time," he said, according to the release.
"One possible explanation is that India passed close by the Arabian Peninsula or the Horn of Africa, and there was a land bridge that allowed the animals to migrate. But Cambaytherium is unique and suggests that India was indeed isolated for a while," he concluded.

IIT-M Joins Hands With CERN To Explore Secrets of Universe

CHENNAI: Led by an expert who was part of the ATLAS experiment that helped find the God Particle, Higgs Boson, by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras has become a full member of a collaboration with the Geneva-based organisation in search of the structure of the universe.
While reputed institutions including TIFR, BARC and a few others have been partnering with CERN, IIT-M is the first IIT to come on board of the prestigious LHC experiment.
According to Prafulla Kumar Behera, associate professor with the department of physics, this initiative will help the institute strengthen its capabilities in fundamental research. “CERN is home to a lot of innovations, including the world wide web. This collaboration is like a bridge that would connect us to the highest level of scientific research while offering them our talent and expertise,” Behera told The New Indian Express.
Besides him, another faculty, James Libby, and two PhD scholars have come on board on the CMS collaboration.
Behera was part of the ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus), one of the many particle detector experiments at the LHC particle accelarator, for half a decade till 2011 before returning to India to take up the job at IIT-M.
The collaboration will be on CMS or Compact Muon Solenoid, a particle detector that is designed to see a wide range of particles and phenomena produced during high-energy collisions in the LHC. This information is believed to hold answers to questions like what the universe is really made of, what forces act within in and what gives everything substance.
Behera has previously worked on silicon pixel detector, a sophisticated technology used primarily in fundamental scientific research, which is not available in India. “We would like to collaborate and develop Indian expertise so that by the time the plant is upgraded by 2020 as has been planned, there will be substantial contribution from our country,” said Behera, who returned from CERN a week ago.
The silicon pixel detector has uses outside the limits of fundamental scientific research, including medical purposes like advanced imaging, he said, pointing out that Indian industries could manufacture the detector in the coming years.
While the team from Chennai will be placed at CERN during the summer, the idea is to collaborate from here by using grid computing to access data generated at the labs in Geneva. Grid computing facility has already been networked till TIFR, Mumbai, which will be expanded to south India, he added.

Virat Kohli says India will emulate Australia's aggression in upcoming Test series

Virat Kohli celebrates his century 
India captain Virat Kohli says his side will emulate Australia's aggression, suggesting the mental battle could help decide the upcoming four-Test series.
India landed in Adelaide on Saturday night, trained on Sunday and will face a Cricket Australia developmental XI on Monday and Tuesday.
It then starts another two-day tour game in Adelaide on Friday before travelling to Brisbane to prepare for the first Test that starts the following Thursday.
That is limited match practice for the visitors to become accustomed to local conditions.
But Kohli, stand-in skipper in the absence of MS Dhoni, backed his players to be ready and said mindset would be the focus of India's 18-man squad over the next week.
"Pace and bounce is something you can get used to. But unless you're mentally there, there's no point of any sort of practice," Kohli said on Sunday.
We're here to play aggressive cricket, the brand of cricket that Australia plays.
Indian captain Virat Kohli

"They are good enough to tackle any sort of bowling in any conditions."
Mitchell Johnson is an obvious potential source of mental demons for the visitors, having terrorised England a year ago and missed India's most recent Australian tour due to injury.
"The guys in our team have the ability to do it ... I don't see any reason why we can't put up a good fight," Kohli said of facing the fearsome Australian left-armer.
Kohli was one of few Indians to stand up in 2011-12, when Australia stormed to a 4-0 series win.
His maiden Test century came in Adelaide, where the voracious opposition and the crowd were both vocal.
The 26-year-old was fined for giving the finger to fans at the SCG in response to jibes on his only tour of Australia, when he also hit out at the hosts' sledging.
"I'm certainly expecting it again," Kohli said with a smile.
"I loved it. Once you perform in those conditions, the people love you here and they love a good fight.
"We're here to play aggressive cricket, play the brand of cricket that Australia plays.
"There's going to be more aggression this time around (from India)."
Adelaide's Glenelg Oval will be the visitors' first chance to show as much.
Kohli said the whole squad would be available for the tour game starting on Monday apart from Dhoni.
"Everyone's fit and doing fine," he said.
"We're going to try a few more than 11 (in the tour game), that's the plan."

Farhan Akhtar undegoes rigorous training for his new look in 'Wazir'

Farhan Akhtar had mesmerized the audience with his 360 degree transformation during Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. The actor not only gave an outstanding performance but the kind of physique the actor made had become a talking point.
This time around again the actor is ready to take the audience by surprise. Farhan will be seen playing an ATS Cop in his upcoming film Wazir. The character required him to be lean and at the same time muscular.
The actor had gone through months of training to get the right kind of look. When it comes to gaining muscle mass it becomes very difficult. The actor had gone through vigorous training and also was on a strict diet.
The first schedule of the film took place in Delhi. While on set the actor had a trainer with him as he has to workout everyday, he spends quality time training before the shoot.
While he has gone through a physical change the actor is also going to look different as for the time ​being ​he will be seen in a mustache in ​the​ film and also has had a different haircut.
Spokesperson of Farhan adds, "Farhan had gone through a major major transformation to play the role of Milkha Singh and he was more than determined to get the perfect look for his character in Wazir. He would be seen playing an ATS cop which required him to look fit and muscular. Farhan went through very strict training for it. Till the shoot of the film completes Farhan will be on this workout regime and in his new look."